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OpEd: Want to save your marriage? Norway says the answer is simple.

The Norwegian government thinks it knows the way to curb their country's divorce rate. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.
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Karen Green, November 1, 2013 1:14:53 PM

The Norwegian government thinks it has found a groundbreaking way to reduce the 40% divorce rate in their country. And while their proposed solution is not that far out of the box, it’s probably not what you would expect a government to step in and suggest for marriages on the brink:

Date night.

That’s right; Solveig Horne, Norway’s minister for children, equality and social inclusion, thinks that couples are breaking up because they don’t go out alone often enough. She says that couples must find time for each other, and to reconnect as lovers.

It’s okay advice in and of itself, but it’s also something that most couples are already totally aware of. How many people would say no to a nice evening without the kids?

But just as most couples understand that the health of their marriage hinges on more than a few hours alone each week, so too should we hope that the government’s suggestion does not just end at mandating date night. Where are the suggestions on how to remedy such common marital issues as unequal division of labour, unemployment and other fiscal pressures, and lack of social policy to support families?

If the government is going to completely ignore the much bigger stressors in most marriages than just lack of date night, they’d better really get behind this campaign. Norwegians must take it upon themselves to petition their minister for:

  • Legislation that forces all 13-17 year-olds to fulfill a minimum number of babysitting hours each week, at a fair and reasonable rate.
  • A by-law to allocate fields, doorways, public restrooms and cars for use as ‘bonding areas,’ allowing couples to truly take the advice of their government and reconnect as lovers while on their dates.
  • A contractual stipulation that will oblige couples to equally divide the movie-viewing decisions, with no veto power over the other person’s choice. If one must endure the latest Bruce Willis movie one week, than the other must suffer in silence with Tatum Channing, the next.
  • Government compensation for at least half of the cost of the dates, if, after a pre-determined period, the marriage still does not work out. (Keep your receipts!)

To be fair, Horne is also working to increase funding for state-run counseling services that couples can access, should date night not solve every problem in every marriage. And if you’re wondering how Horne, herself a divorcee, was inspired to pursue this course of action, she says that she got the idea after watching the Steve Carell/Tina Fey movie, Date Night, a slapstick comedy about an evening out that goes horribly, horribly wrong.

Perhaps she thinks couples can learn just as much about saving their marriage from knowing what not to do.

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Karen Green

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